Indie Writing Life: S1E3 – Invisible Audacity

Welcome to Episode 3 of “Indie Writing Life,” my sort of weekly series about what I work on each week as a writer, i.e. – somebody running a business writing and selling books. My inaugural episode can be found here, if you’d like to start at the beginning. Last week’s episode is here.

Stone Spirits

A short blurb for my story “Stone Spirits” is shown below:

All that the young Doona Walraven wanted was to be a chef in her uncle’s famous restaurant. That dream ends when the riverboat she’s traveling on is taken by pirates. It turns out, Doona has a much different destiny, one that will change the world. But first, she needs to kill a LOT of pirates.

I mentioned in last week’s episode that I had finished a (draft) cover image for the book, which is scheduled to be published in Winter 2024. So, I’ve decided to post the raw image to illustrate what it takes to make a cover sometimes. In this case, I found an image on DepositPhotos that I liked…but it wasn’t accurate to my story. I did a lot of Photoshop work to update the image to my needs.

Draft image for the cover of "Stone Spirits," after major alterations by David Keener.
Draft image for the cover of “Stone Spirits,” after major alterations by David Keener.

I turned the arch into a portal, compositing in another landscape inside the arch. I removed the stairs that the woman climbed to get to the arch; my story had the arch on level ground. I faded the edges of the image to darkness and changed the position of some of the machinery that surrounded the artifact.

I think the revised image is solid and impactful. However, the focus is the girl in the arch, which will need to be central on the front cover. To turn it into a wraparound cover, I’ll have to 1) crop it on the right side, 2) shrink it a little to get the full arch on the front cover with the book title above it, and 3) extend at the top and left sides to make it fit the cover template properly.

I save a good amount of money by being able to do much of this graphic work myself. More advanced stuff, well, I recommend barter (it’s worked well for me).

Jonelle Crosse

Jonelle Crosse

My novelette “Jonelle Crosse” was originally published in the anthology Fantastic Detectives. Now that I’ve got the rights back, I’m publishing it as a solo book on February 29, 2024. I couldn’t resist the idea of doing a Leap Day release. I submitted the ebook for preorders yesterday, so that should go live soon.

I’ve also submitted the print edition of the trade paperback to KDP. As soon as it passes their approval process, I’ll order a proof copy to verify for myself that the book passes my standards.

On a side note, I did the ebook edition using Kindle Create. It’s a basic tool provided by Amazon, but it gets the job done. I’m looking at eventually upgrading to a more advanced book formatting tool, such as Vellum or the like. But that’s a problem for a future day.

Invisible (WIP)

I made more progress on “Invisible.” If you recall, I ran into trouble in the middle of this novella, so I stopped the first draft, re-outlined, and then did a second draft overhaul of the first part of the story. That brought in some other POVs, which creates the expectation that these various characters will collide with the protagonist in interesting ways. Along with some major cutting, I’ve improved the pacing and tension in this section.

I’ve started rewriting section two, which was where the train went off the rails and sank into the middle muddle. I’m liking where I’m at, but I’m already at 23K with everything that’s been written so far (which includes more content after this section).

Balticon Logo

Balticon

I’ve been working as a volunteer for Balticon to finalize both the convention’s Programming track and its Workshop track. Both are just about done. For the workshops, I sent out the invitation emails to the presenters and I’ve already started hearing back from them.

Operation Soundstorm

I’m planning to create audiobooks for a bunch of my stories this year (with human narrators, not AI, thank you very much). The thing is, all of my books have Afterwards, in which I discuss how the story happened. I want a professional narrator to do the story itself, but I want to narrate the Afterward myself.

Accordingly, I’m in the process of learning how to use Audacity, which is a free, open source sound editing tool. Yes, there IS a learning curve.

Anyway, my first audiobook project is going to be “Bitter Days,” followed by “Clash by Night.” If anybody is curious, I’m offering narrators $100 per finished hour (PFH). In today’s market, this is a good, solid rate.

Conclusion

This is a pretty typical week for me. I spent most of my spare time working on “Invisible,” my current WIP. I spent some time polishing up the cover image for “Stone Spirits,” which is scheduled for publication in the November timeframe. I submitted a preorder for the “Jonelle Crosse” ebook. I also finalized the trade paperback edition of “Jonelle Crosse, scheduled for a late February publication. And I actively began learning how to use Audacity, adding another skill to my indie writer repertoire. Oh, and I also got the Balticon workshop track finalized (pending acceptance by the various presenters).

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